A senior’s perspective on the estate planning process When I saw my doctor for a…
Executors and administrators of estates are often called upon to deal with challenging legal and financial logistics during their time of grief. If my clients have served as estate representatives before, the legal and financial work involved is more familiar. They may not need as much explanation about the process, and they may find their tasks eased by experience.
But even if my clients have suffered loss before, I never assume their current loss is any easier, or their grief is any less.
So lately, I’ve been pondering how probate attorneys can best support our clients during their time of grief.
Which professionals can we refer our clients to, if they want help processing their grief?
And what other resources are available to them?
To answer these questions, I met with an experienced and empathetic grief coach, Nesreen Ahmed, M.S., P.C.C.
Bracha: How do you define grief, specifically around the loss of a person?
Nesreen: Grief involves both missing the person, and other emotions, such as the feeling that you or they should have done more during their lifetime. There are psychological, spiritual, and even physical aspects to grief.
Bracha: Do we ever really heal from grief?
Nesreen: The intensity of grief can lessen over time. We can learn to adjust, like questioning or ruminating less, and eventually learn to integrate the loss into our lives.
Bracha: Let’s turn to the various professionals who provide care for grief. What is a grief coach, and why did you become one?
Nesreen: A grief coach is often a specially trained coach. After my sister’s passing, I worked with a life coach. It inspired me to choose coaching as my own new vocation. During my training, I met a grief coach, and after working through my grief with her, I knew this would be my own path too.
Bracha: How is grief coaching different from therapy or counseling? I know they have different qualification requirements.
Nesreen: That’s correct. And regarding the processes, timing and goals are two major differences.
Therapy is often advisable if the grief feels too overwhelming and starts to interfere with your daily life. It can help you deal with intense grief that’s interfering with your functioning. Therapy is also helpful if a loss brought up many other issues, like if someone had an unhealthy or complicated relationship with a person who passed away.
Counseling is most often sought in the immediate aftermath of a loss. It can give you tools and resources to process your grief and guidance on how to handle an upsurge of grief during specific times, like an anniversary.
Coaching is more appropriate once people have done some of their grief work already. We focus on goals like:
- Resolving what feels unfinished with the person who passed.
Often, this means forgiving them and/or forgiving yourself, as well as learning to accept things exactly as they were.
- Integrating life changes inspired by the loss.
Grief tends to clarify what’s most important in life, and what’s not. Many people find they want to make some major changes: for example, wanting to find a new career or start a family.
Bracha: Can you provide more details about the grief coaching process?
Nesreen: I offer people a choice between the Grief Recovery Method (GRM) and a less structured process.
Most people choose the Grief Recovery Method. GRM is an 8 week program involving reading, writing, and weekly meetings with me. It trains your brain to process grief differently and reduce rumination. These are the components of GRM over the two months:
- How to train the people around you to support you better
- How you’ve been avoiding your grief and how to start handling it in a healthier way, if needed
- Your loss history: All of your other grief experiences
For the second month, you choose a specific loss to work on. Usually it’s the same one you first sought coaching for, but sometimes people choose a different one – for example, an earlier divorce or loss. We work through:
- Events in the relationship
- Acts you’re seeking to forgive (yours or the other person’s)
- Things you never got to discuss
Bracha: Let’s turn to how your work and mine intersects. What guidance can you offer estate representatives?
Nesreen: First, be aware that grief can hit hardest when people are finished dealing with estate logistics. Suddenly there are no more tasks to focus on, and emotions can flood in. Even if it’s already been a few years, an estate representative may be experiencing more intense grief than ever before at the end of a probate case, because there’s nothing left for them to do —except grieve.
Second, I strongly advise people to get support from professionals. That may mean an estate attorney, a financial adviser or accountant, and/or someone to clear out their loved one’s belongings.
Bracha: Or a grief coach. You offer online coaching with a complimentary consultation. — Grief Coaching edited – Harbor Light Coaching.
Is there a roster of certified grief coaches too?
Bracha: Finally, which other supports for grief are available?
Nesreen: I recommend the Center for Loss & Life Transition website, which has excellent resources for grievers, their family and friends, and grief care workers. Home – Center for Loss & Life Transition
Breathwork and meditation can be productive when done alone too, such as these exercises:
Bracha: Thank you very much, Nesreen. Your guidance will help me better support my estate clients, and it’s helped me personally too.
Nesreen: You’re very welcome. I’m always happy to educate people about the professionals and resources available to support their unique grief journeys.
Nesreen Ahmed, M.S., P.C.C., is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist who offers Grief, Life, and Executive coaching worldwide. To learn more or book a complimentary consultation, please visit www.harborlightcoaching.com.